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Brazilian Coffee Cooperative Uses RFID to Manage Inventory

Coopercam is attaching passive UHF tags to bags of beans, enabling it to track the receipt, storage and shipment of coffee.
By Edson Perin

Embedded in the warehouse floor are passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags that the forklifts' readers interrogate. If a bag is placed in the wrong location, a screen on the vehicle's dashboard warns the driver, who must then move the product to the correct storage area.

The RFID system provides a map of the warehouse that depicts each bag's location in real time. Filter options enable users to search for a certain type of coffee. "Another issue that has been facilitated is related to coffees that are certified," Brasiliense states. "It is now possible to visually locate them through the positioning system inside the warehouse, streamlining an audit."

Each coffee bag has a pouch that holds a Smartrac RFID tag.
The middleware used for this project was developed by BrasilSync, which is based in the city of Paraguaçu, also in Minas Gerais. "The middleware filters the raw data collected by the forklift reader's antenna, adds business intelligence and updates the system server," Brasiliense says.

Coopercam's decision to invest in an RFID system began with a challenge: find a solution to manage the warehouse routines involving the receipt and storage of coffee beans. "Another important aspect," Brasiliense notes, "was seeking a way to provide the most accurate information about the movement of bags inside the warehouse or when the coffee comes out of a particular storage place and goes to another."

After searching for options available on the market, but failing to find any able to manage all of these processes, Coopercam determined that RFID technology might be the basis of a viable solution. "With the implementation of the RFID system," Brasiliense says, "we could automate the entire process of tracking the bags' storage and movement."

The applied technology made the warehouse processes much simpler and more agile, Brasiliense says, in view of Coopercam. "RFID today helps us locate more than 4,500 bags of coffee in more than 1,200 storage locations available within the warehouse—which, with pen and paper, would be a job virtually impossible or highly prone to errors," he attests.

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